BADSEY RECREATION GROUND – Opened by Captain Hunt
The formal opening of Badsey Recreation Ground took place on Saturday afternoon when Captain Cecil Hunt, the son of a former esteemed Vicar of Badsey (the late Rev T H Hunt) visited the village to perform the function. The Recreation Ground, which has an area of between three and four acres, lies between Sands Lane and Badsey Fields Lane. It was formerly market garden ground, owned by Mr Hubert Smith. Last year it was laid down with grass and fenced in. At the beginning of this year an interesting ceremony of tree planting took place. The Committee had provided about 40 forest and ornamental trees for the adornment of the place, and to afford shade in the course of time, and inhabitants were invited to plant a tree. So ready was the response that all the trees were given in this way, and the names of the donors and planters are registered on a plan for future reference. A number of choice shrubs are also planted in an enclosed border running parallel with the railings along Sands Lane, from which is the main entrance. Owing to the generosity of Mr Arthur Sears, who has given the land, a second approach has been made to the Recreation Ground from Badsey Fields Lane in the shape of a footway, six feet wide and nearly 150 yards long. This will be a great convenience to those residing on that side of the village and Mr Sears’ public-spirited action is much appreciated. The Recreation Ground Fund was started some seven years ago, but owing to the war little was afterwards done till last year when it was restarted in earnest. A sum of £200 was realised at the asparagus show and the garden fete which was also held at Seward House resulted in another considerable amount of money being added to the exchequer. The Committee, who have carried out the arrangements, are as follows: Messrs J Sladden (Chairman), P J Bayliss, J E Knight, W Stanford, A Dore, A Hall, J Addis, W W Blake, W Mustoe, H Kelland, with Miss Ethel Sladden, who has been a most indefatigable honorary secretary.
There was a large attendance at the opening ceremony, which was favoured with fine weather. The speeches were delivered from a dray on which were Mr J Sladden (Chairman), Captain Cecil Hunt and Mrs Hunt, Miss Ethel Sladden, and members of the Committee. The Chairman read apologies and regret for non-attendance from Mr & Mrs J Ashwin, Mr & Mrs G C Lees-Milne, Commander & Mrs Eyres Monsell, Mr & Mrs Drysdale Bowden, Major Charles Hunt & Mrs Hunt, and Miss Eva Hunt, Mr & Mrs B M Chandler of Littleton, Mr Barnett Emanuel of Covent Garden Market, and Mr & Mrs A H Savory. Mr Savory (who Mr Sladden regretted had been ill) wrote: “Hearty good wishes and congratulations to Badsey, and wishing them a happy day.” (Applause.) Mr Sladden, referring to Mr Savory’s book just published, Grain and Chaff from an English Manor, said it was well written and they all ought to read it. He said they had waited a long time for the Recreation Ground owing to the war, but the day had at last arrived for them to open it, and he was very gratified to see it open, as were, he was sure, those few who did not see with them on the matter. Mr Sladden paid a tribute to the generosity of the subscribers and donors, and also to the amount of support given by salesmen from Covent Garden, Birmingham and Manchester and others, not forgetting their old friend and parishioner who sold them the ground, Mr Hubert Smith. He saw Mr Smith about the ground. Mr Smith did not want to sell it at all but when informed of the needs of the parish he did not ask an exorbitant price but met them in a very liberal way. So Mr Smith could not be classed among the profiteers. Then thanks to Mr Arthur Sears a second entrance had been made to the ground from Badsey Fields Lane. Mr Sears had given this land. Mr Sladden referred to Mr Sears’ generous public spirit and the good offices of Mrs Sears in giving the right of way and thanked the Committee for the way they had assisted him. They had between 30 and 40 meetings and some of them last two or three hours. He referred to the untimely death of a member of the Committee, Mr Harry Hall, who would have rejoiced with them all had he been present to see the opening. Mr Sladden asked them to see that no wanton mischief was done to the trees, shrubs and fences and said when the hedge grew up the parish would be proud of their Recreation Ground. The ground was a recreation ground for the enjoyment of the people of Badsey. There would be no classes or cliques. All sports would be played on it and he hoped to see the finest game of all, cricket, started on the field and in the first match he was going to say he would umpire but he would whip up the tail and come in tenth man. (Laughter and applause.) There was also to be tennis and tennis was not only a game for women. The ground was in the hands of the original trustees. The idea was to transfer the freehold to the Parish Council so that it should be under proper control. They wanted the children of the village to get the best enjoyment they could get. They wanted a pavilion and shelter provided for the wet weather and a good thick hedge planted round the fences. He was pleased to have lived to see that day as he had always wished to see a Recreation Ground at Badsey. Captain Cecil Hunt had kindly come there that day to formally open the Recreation Ground. He did not think that anyone bearing the name of Hunt needed any introduction to a Badsey audience. They cherished the memory of his good father – the tower and church was a permanent memorial of what he did for the parish – and they still felt affection for him and his family. He was pleased to see Mrs Hunt present.
Captain Hunt, who was heartily applauded, congratulated them on the weather and said it was a great honour to be asked to come and he was delighted to be there on such an occasion. He was delighted to see a great many of his old friends again. It was 35 years ago since they left the parish and he (Captain Hunt) attended the unveiling of the memorial cross ten years ago. His first idea of recreation at Badsey was the wake. His father won the veteran’s race for men over 60 at the Jubilee Sports 1887 (“hands down”). He congratulated them heartily on the opening of that Recreation Ground. It was beautifully situated and as flat as a pancake, and very suitable in very way. Referring to funny stories told by his father, Captain Hunt said, on one occasion a friend who had to preach a wedding sermon was in a difficulty as to the subject. His father suggested as a text, “There should be an abundance of peace as long as the moon endureth.” (Laughter.) After the agony of war they must have recreation. The world was all dancing. This Recreation Ground came in the nick of time for that purpose. He hoped it would brighten the life of the village. These sort of things would help to keep the village youths in the country. About £900 had been collected for the Recreation Ground, a sum unheard of when he lived there, when wages were very low and there were no rich men in the parish. Then it would have been impossible to have raised half that sum. The signs of prosperity in Badsey now were remarkable. Badsey was full of esprit de corps, and they were willing to take on anything that was wise and sensible. He congratulated them on the Recreation Ground, and a lot of thanks were due to the Committee and Mr Sladden (his father’s old friend), who had been at Badsey 42 years, and who had worked so hard for the benefit of the parish all the time. Mr Sladden was a man of great public spirit. Captain Hunt referred to the work of the restoration of the church, the fountain and the bells, and said Mr Sladden was primarily responsible for the Recreation Ground. He had not changed a bit; he thought he had the secret of perpetual youth. (Laughter.) Their thanks were due to Mr Sladden for his work during the 42 years. He asked them to give cheers for the Committee, coupled with the name of Mr Sladden.
This having been done, Captain Hunt formally declared the Recreation Ground open.
Mr Sladden, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Captain Hunt for his very kind words. It had been a labour of love to all of them. He moved a hearty vote of thanks to Captain & Mrs Hunt. (Cheers.)
The Rev W C Allsebrook, in seconding, complimented Mr Sladden and the Committee on the work they had achieved and on the proud position they had arrived at in providing the parish with such a Recreation Ground. He heartily congratulated them on their choice in asking Captain Hunt to open the Recreation Ground – a more suitable one could not have been made. One reason was that he was his father’s son and another that the ground was to be devoted to athletic pursuits, and he referred to Captain Hunt’s prowess as an athlete.
Captain Hunt, in responding, said he felt the kind way they had received him very deeply.
Children’s sports and other amusements were held subsequently. The Evesham Territorial Band was in attendance, and there was dancing in the evening. At dusk there was a torchlight procession.